In Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur, author of the bestselling The Portable Curmudgeon, gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on the world of writing. Here are literary lions on everything from the passive voice to promotion and publicity: James Baldwin on the practiced illusion of effortless prose, Isaac Asimov on the despotic tendencies of editors, John Cheever on the perils of drink, Ivan Turgenev on matrimony and the Muse. Here, too, are the secrets behind the sleight-of-hand practiced by artists from Aristotle to Rita Mae Brown. Sagacious, inspiring, and entertaining, Advice to Writers is an essential volume for the writer in every reader.
Read! Read! Read! And then read some more.
Read! Read! Read! And then read some more. When you find something that thrills you, take it apart paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word, to see what made it so wonderful. Then use those tricks the next time you write. – W P Kinsella
In this context, I’d like to draw your attention to a reading challenge that I am hosting on my blog – Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2016.
Keep in mind why you write
It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. And although it is sometimes easy to forget, wanting to be a writer is not about reviews or advances or how many copies are printed or sold. It is much simpler than that, and much more passionate. If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.
– Alice Hoffman
You must be driven
A writer has to have some kind of compulsive drive to do his work. If you don’t have it, you’d better find another kind of work, because it’s the only compulsion that will drive you through the psychological nightmares of writing. – John McPhee
Follow This Simple Rule
Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.
– Norman Mailer
This piece of advice is something I’m not sure I believe in. Does writer’s block really exist? No less a writer than Toni Morrison says it does.
Respect Writer’s Block
When I sit down in order to write, sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I tell my students there is such a thing as “writer’s block,” and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.
Experience is overrated
Writing teachers invariably tell students, Write about what you know. That’s, of course, what you have to do, but on the other hand, how do you know what you know until you’ve written it? Writing is knowing. What did Kafka know? The insurance business? So that kind of advice is foolish, because it presumes that you have to go out to a war to be able to do war. Well, some do and some don’t. I’ve had very little experience in my life. In fact, I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.
– E L Doctorow
Remember, that the hard work is worth it
I have never understood why “hard work” is supposed to be pitiable. True, some work is soul destroying when it is done against the grain, but when it is part of “making” how can you grudge it? You get tired, of course, but the struggle, the challenge, the feeling of being extended as you never thought you could be is fulfilling and deeply, deeply satisfying.
– Rumer Godden
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Here is what Write Your Heart Out #WYHO is all about.
- We provide you at least 4 prompts every Friday and invite you to write on as many as you like over the weekend.
- Add your link/s to the linky below which will be open until Monday morning.
- You can choose not to respond to the prompts, but add your posts from the week too.
- A link back to this post will be appreciated.
- Take one or more quotes from ‘Advice to Writers’ and explain how that works or doesn’t work for you.
- Write an essay or a story based on this sentence : ‘If it’s on the internet, it isn’t private.’
- Continue this sentence with a work of flash fiction. ‘He saw the ‘Help Wanted’ sign on the door and tentatively entered the store. That’s when he heard a scream……
- Does this quote speak to you? ‘Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie.’